Nintendo surprised by fast dropping 3DS sales. I’m not.

This is what happens when you release your most expensive handheld ever with no killer-app and stale technology (stereoscopic 3D):

“Nintendo 3DS has not been selling as expected since the second week, and this is not just in the Japanese market but also in the United States and Europe, where no direct impact from the great earthquake has occurred,” Nintendo president Satoru Iwata admited Tuesday. “Therefore, we recognize that we are in a situation where we need to step up our efforts to further promote the 3DS.”

As I’ve said before, everything changes the day Nintendo releases a truly inspired and must-have game. Until then, I wouldn’t expect any up tick in 3DS sales without a price drop. Even then, the thing will still need compelling games.


  1. I will not buy a 3DS until one of the three conditions is met:

    1. There is a 50 dollar price-drop. I don’t believe the 3D effect is worth the extra 50 dollars I shell out for the console.

    2. There is a 3D-less version of the 3DS (the 2DS?) that is released that is cheaper but still maintains the graphics quality. The graphics of the 3DS with the stereoscope turned to 0% look as good as GameCube graphics, and having GameCube graphics in my pocket is very appealing to me.

    3. An awesome ORIGINAL game comes out. I do not need to relive my nostalgia via the 3DS with a LoZ:OoT or Star Fox remake. I still have my N64 to serve that purpose.

  2. Stan, your #2 reason is just stupid. Just turn the 3D off, idiot. They aren’t going to make a 32X-ish product just so you won’t have to move a dial down.

  3. lol if ever you needed proof third parties suck ass

    nintendo holds back completed titles just to give third parties a chance and now everybody says the 3DS is failing and has sucky games and its nintendo’s fault


  4. Wow I thought his number 2 was a good idea; no need for name calling. Leave out the 3d for people who don’t want it, it is a good way to save money.

    The problem with this console is that it is expensive because of technology people just generally don’t care about; throw it in fine, charge me a bunch and I don’t care anymore (The 3d looks like garbage anyway). The price of the thing is just too much for a handheld. (Especially with nothing but poopskee games on it)

  5. Uh guys, it would cost Nintendo MORE money to make ANOTHER 3DS that doesn’t have 3D. It costs money to take something out, just like it does to put it in. Just turn the slider off. And that isn’t the only reason it costs $250, the online, the better hardware otherwise. Graphics aren’t the only thing you are paying for.

    With that said, I’m not buying until $200 either. That’s my cap for handhelds. And even then, at the end of the day, we can all agree it needs that killer game we have to play. And probably, for most us, that we haven’t played before.

    Casual market already owns Nintendogs, so that wasn’t going to sell like it did before. Pilotwings is a niche title, and Steel Diver even more so. And third parties don’t put their top teams on anything Nintendo, then complain when it doesn’t sell.

    Let me know when Monster Hunter 3D is announced. Until then, I’ll still to my Wii and DS.

  6. Uh oh, for a second there while reading I thought I’d stumbled into an IGN article

  7. Turning the slider all the way down won’t change the fact that it’s got the backlight turned up 40%(or more) to compensate for the “3D” screen dimming the picture. Creating a non-3D-3DS would give us a system that has a much higher battery life and could potentially be cheaper. I’d also guess that oddsmakers would have the the line at around 200 to 1 for Nintendo to create a non-3D-3DS.

    It still comes down to three things for me. I need a better battery, lower price, and a grip full of games I want to buy. I think I could be coaxed into plunking down money if two or three of those are fixed.

  8. It got released in the spring thats the problem. Holidays come around and you all will see usual Nintendo sales.

  9. I feel the same as the general consensus:

    – Too expensive, 200 tops, not more.
    – Still, if I want to buy: better games. I’m not saying the games that are out now are bad as such, but there’s a lot more coming, and people are waiting for them to come out before shelling out the cash
    – The battery life. Nintendo ‘screwed’ me over with the DSLite, so why won’t they do this yet again? Even though I didn’t buy the damn DSLite, nor the DSi (XL), these were definitely better than the Phat. History could repeat itself.

    In short, I will buy, but for now, I wait.

  10. Yeah why not just make a version without button or plastic or people allergic to electricity.

    You can already turn the 3D off. Do so. Or don’t. Or Don’t buy a 3DS. Nintendo’s not going to stop the presses and make more SKUs and confuse everybody just so you don’t have to strain your fingers to please approximately 30 people on the internet.

    How would you even market such a beast? “It’s our non-3D 3DS! If you want 3D, buy our 3DS! But make sure you don’t buy our non-3D 3DS if you want 3D! There is no way anybody could be confused! This is a smart plan!” Critical thinking skills, please.

  11. They have to make a brighter backlight, more than a traditional LCD display, because of the gates that create the 3D effect. That reduces the battery life significantly.

    I don’t think they are going to make a different version nor do I expect them to do so. But they chose the trade off for 3D instead of battery and I’ll definitely vote with my wallet to show that I think they made the wrong choice.

  12. The built-in software is worth the extra $50, easily. The upcoming eshop (very soon) will had a lot more to the value. At least four of the launch titles are outstanding–a far better situation than most launches. And the 3D looks fantastic on the good titles.

    I’ve got no complaints; I love the thing! Nintendo needs to advertise heavily, keep releasing quality games and get the eshop running. And release a 3Ds-only Pokemon RPG. 🙂

  13. Or even better, back in 2004 Nintendo should have made a DS with no touch screen! That would have saved battery life! Or even just a single-screened system! What’s with the other screen Nintendo?!

    The best part about voting with your wallet is that you can do it in silence just as effectively. No need to wave the butthurt fan flag, too.

  14. Dear Go-Getter:

    I understand where you are coming from. From an economic standpoint, Nintendo is not paying anything out of their own wallet for us to experience these games in 3D. Adding stereoscopic capabilities to their product doesn’t cost much for them. Producing a 2D version would therefore not save them any money, and offering the 2D version at a lower price would in fact lose money.

    But I am not arguing that Nintendo should do this. I am saying, if they did this, I would buy that version of the 3DS. So please, no rage here. This is all just a conjecture.

  15. I’m not surprised, there is only one maybe two games out for it that are worthy anything let alone a $40 price tag per game.

  16. Mohan–

    Street Fighter
    Steel Diver
    Nintendogs plus cats
    Ridge Racer

    These may not all be to your taste, but they are all great, high-quality titles. Plus, Face Raiders is one of the most fun game’s I’ve ever played, and it’s a pack-in.

    I’ve personally been having a great, great time with the system.

  17. …and I have now permanently disabled my iPhone’s !$?!#!?! auto-correct.

  18. A non 3D Nintendo 3DS is pants-on-head retarded. It already comes with a switch to turn it off. Deal with it.

  19. When Kid Icarus comes out, I’m buying. That is if they fix the problem of the game not being lefty-friendly. I’m left handed and don’t want to be forced to use my right hand.

  20. For me, the reason I haven’t bought a 3DS yet is simply the games, and I strongly believe it’s the main reason quite a few others haven’t.

    There are few, if any killer apps. That doesn’t mean the third party games mentioned are bad, just that they don’t appeal to the mass audience, just the people interested in the genre. Where’s our Wii Sports equivalent to draw in the expanded audience? The Mario game which sells about 20 million copies a game? A new Zelda game (or even Ocarina of Time 3D)? And no, the built in software isn’t a killer app on the level of Wii Sports or Tetris (just compare sales figures for the 3DS to those for the Game Boy and Wii), regardless of what Nintendo was intending.

    Wben the good games come out, the 3DS will sell. Nothing else to it, regardless of what the conventional business logic says. For myself, Ocarina of Time 3D will be that game, for other people it’ll be another well known and high quality game.

    The price doesn’t matter, unless the games aren’t good enough. The 3D is irrelevant to my decision in future.

  21. @Mike: How is it forcing you?
    I’m not buying either until they improve battery life AND drop the price. I’m OK with games, I know great ones will come eventually…

    Sorry Nintendo…I’m your fan but this was a bad move.

  22. @Artefacto

    Damn right. What’s with Infendo and their comments today? Did they eat Stupid Flakes this morning, or are they trolling? It’s hard to tell sometimes.

  23. amen. Blake says it like it is.

    I’m excited for a better fighter (TvC3D please!), Mercenaries (looks like a great arcadey tech showpiece), Maybe Ocarina and Tales of the Abyss. Something with meat on it.

  24. More on topic, I think Nintendo underestimated Pokemon, and overestimated the 3DS, and this is what happened. Released to close to Black and White, most kids who would have wanted a 3DS opted for DS and Pokemon.

  25. I think that this was really caused by Pokemon and a somewhat rushed launch. If they would have waited a little bit longer, we could have some more … erm … decent launch titles, and the eShop, and not have me sitting here playing Pokemon while my 3DS is living in it’s cradle (and the occasional streetpass stroll).

    I like my 3DS. A lot. But it needs something to make me want to play it–I can’t wait for the Mega Man Legends demo that Capcom is shamelessly draining us for (pay for this unfinished demo and we’ll continue development! Otherwise, you’ll never see this game in your lifetime! Bwahahahaha!)

  26. Really ”failing” come on people it’s been a month and only a handful of games have been released. Wait till ocarina of time releases and more 1st party games follow. Also im sure there are more great 3rd party games like street fighter on the way. Patience young grasshoppers patience

  27. im still dying to see the 3d on this thing.

    i’m both surprised and not surprised. I dont think it has been advertised well and i dont think it offers a compelling reason to upgrade from the DS…. honestly they graphic upgrade isnt that significant to me here… maybe it will look more significant in 3d?

  28. I walked through Wal-Mart and they only had one 3DS left in the case on Saturday night… seems the Easter Bunny was good to some boys and girls this year!

    If the 3DS failing? Not at all.. it’s selling well in a weird economic climate and it’s spring! Kids can’t Christmas wishlist this yet… and in the fall I can see there being a boatload of games coming out to get the ‘hardcore’ crowd (hardcore gamers make me laugh).

    Bottom line, if you want it, buy it. Don’t want it, leave it on the shelf and someone else will buy it. Moaning over $50 is not going to win any arguments… I’m sure everyone’s found numerous ways to piss away $50 before.

    The software lineup is pretty decent (although April has been slow – that Rabbids game is starting to look good!) with Pilotwings, Steel Diver, SF IV, Ridge Racer and Ghost Recon Shadow Wars. I have 6 games already and I’m happy with the system.

    Action Figure Theatre!! (That’s what I call my 3DS)

  29. It’s going to take more than one killer app to convince the masses a 3DS is worth shoving in a pocket next to their smartphone. Their focus needs to be on the software and not just ports.

  30. @Blake

    I understand why people aren’t buying now- it’s spring, there’s no must-have titles (yet), and the price is high while the economy sucks. I agree with most of your article except….

    How is stereoscopic 3D stale technology?

  31. @brett
    Stereoscopic 3d was pushed on consumer TVs a couple of years ago and finally died last year. In fact, it’s been pushed on us either progressively or passively since the ’50s, into the ’80, and as recently as the last few years. In that regard, it’s stale and not in demand.

  32. 3D effect is there if u want it and its amazing alright in titles at launch your seing gamecube graphics but as the system grows up u will see wii/ps3 graphics and then the 3D effect will be a treat in games like crysis2/revelations/mercenaries/MGS3D/monster hunter ect when the big games on big budgets hit even fifa12/pes12 u will see that the 3D is a must for handheld gaming or any other device that doesnt require you to wear glasses infact i cant play the 3ds without 3D on pilotwings/pes11/ssf4 looking foward to Dead or alive dimentions as thats running on the DOA4 engine from ps3

  33. i will say this the 3ds will sell like crazy when its got saints row and GTA ect as its destined to get them titles we know its getting saints row but when the 3ds is flooded with games it will sell throught the roof plus its linking up with the most powerful console ever the Nintendo STREAM so that alone makes it even cooler infact that will make the 3ds kill the psp2 in sales as im sure nintendo has some exclusives in the pipeline 4 cross platform on 3DS/STREAM anyway my prediction is 18 million 1st year

  34. I agree with the overall consensus about the system. That is: that it is a bit costly and needs a original title that stands out.

    But just to add my own words to the discussion. My reason for not buying one already is that $250 is a bit much to put out for a incomplete system. Yes updates are coming, but they are not here yet and neither are the killer games.

    I will buy one and I may not wait for a price drop to do so (though I would be P off if it came right after I brought it). But I will wait until after the system updates and a killer game that I want to buy comes out.

  35. Please refresh my memory, but didn’t something similar happened with the DS sales until Nintendogs came out many months after the DS launched?

  36. DS sales didn’t take off until the system was redesigned. A steep price drop and redesign — and some clear signs of a change of attitude toward indie developers and flexible software pricing — would be necessary prereqs. for me to ever consider a 3DS purchase.

  37. Right! And now the DS is the best-selling console/handheld hardware of all time! So, why should Nintendo be worried about the 3DS slump in sales?

  38. imho few killer apps are already availabe, but i’m gonna get it when it gets to 199$

  39. See you $199 hard-price boycotters in about three-four years.